Wake Technical Community College wants students to get credit for their sweat inside and outside the classroom.
Students who graduate next month will have the option of a new kind of transcript that lists activities besides academics, such as sports, clubs, student government or community service. The college will verify a student’s activities and provide an official document, along with the academic transcript.
Wake Tech administrators say they are the first community college in North Carolina to issue “co-curricular transcripts.” They think it will help their graduates be more competitive in the job market or in the process of transferring to a four-year university.
“Our hope is students will use this document to attach to their transfer application,” said Melody Wiggins, coordinator for Wake Tech’s office of volunteerism and leadership. “They will also take it with them to a job interview or attach it to a resume.”
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Wiggins said students increasingly feel that they need more than good grades as they proceed to careers and four-year colleges. Recruiters and admissions counselors primarily look at the academic transcript, she said, but “they’re also looking for students who are well-rounded.”
The college requires evidence of campus involvement and tracks volunteer hours in a new software system. Students have to request the new transcript, which is free.
That’s what Glenn Strumke has done.
A 25-year-old Wake Tech honors student, Strumke will graduate in May with an associate’s degree. He’ll also receive a co-curricular transcript that documents nearly 200 hours of community service that he’s done in his two-plus years at Wake Tech. He’s volunteered at a men’s shelter, a food bank and the VA Hospital in Durham while at Wake Tech.
Strumke eventually hopes to study engineering at N.C. State University. He said he hoped his commitment to community work would mean something to the admissions counselors who will look at his application. “That could be the deciding factor,” he said.
“If you’ve got a plan to go to one of these universities, they’re very highly, highly competitive,” he added. “You want to stand out.”
Strumke, who works part-time as a bartender at the Angus Barn, will take extra classes in physics and calculus during the summer and fall before he applies to a four-year university.
Because many community college students are years removed from high school, they typically don’t have a recent record of extracurricular activities.
Jonathan Wirt, associate dean for student development, said the co-curricular transcripts may have a side benefit for Wake Tech. Students may be more likely to immerse themselves in clubs and leadership roles at what has traditionally been a commuter campus. And studies have shown that students who participate in extracurricular activities are more engaged academically.
“It’s kind of an incentive for students to get involved in our programs,” Wirt said.